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New members join D122 Board of Education

After taking a contested race for four seats in the April 4 election, the New Lenox School District 122 Board of Education welcomed two newcomers and two returning board members following its April 26 regular meeting.

Voting records from the Will County Clerk’s office show Rhonda Starklauf receiving 2,923 votes; Albert Haring with 2,766; David Rush 2,510; and Phil Adair with 2,457, while challengers Theresa Ann Berkey’s 2,355 and Chad Hull’s 2,123 fell short.

Individuals taking oath were returning members Rhonda Starklauf and Phil Adair, and newcomers Albert Haring and David Rush.

New Lenox officials welcomed the two newcomers by congratulating them for taking the contested race for seats on the board.

Haring expressed his thanks to the outgoing board members Sue Smith and Patrick Martino and said there are some big shoes to fill.

“They have been a good thing, a blessing for our district,” he said.

Rush mirrored that sentiment.

“That’s a long time to commit yourself to helping out a school district,” he said.

Haring said being able “to have that balance between financial responsibility and the needs of the kids” is crucial to the district’s continued success.

Rush said he’s hoping to have a positive impact on the board.

“I’ve heard it’s a thankless job over and over, but I’m looking forward to being part of the board and hopefully, making the district a better district,” he said.

During the regular meeting, school district officials also bid farewell to longtime board members Sue Smith and Patrick Martino.

“This is kind of a sad moment for me,” Superintendent Dr. Peggy Manville said. “[I’ve] worked with two people for a very, very long time.”

Smith has served on the board for more than 17 years, while Martino has served the last eight years, beginning in 2009.

Manville gave thanks to them for their service to the school district.

“During these years, both have faithfully served the district in a variety of ways,” she said.

The two have met the demands associated with decisions regarding district finances, facilities, transportation, student achievement and safety.

Both contributed to the forging of an overall district-wide building renovation plan with the approval and completion of more than $10 million in Capital Improvement and Life Safety projects.

Martino and Smith assisted the district in undertaking new measures to enhance the security and phone systems.

“That is a huge undertaking,” Manville said. “It took us over two years to pick a phone system. That’s how involved it is. They were also… a big part of designing our new school safety program and bringing CrisisGo into our district.”

They contributed to the introduction and ongoing efforts to establish state-of-the-art technology programs.

Manville said Martino and Smith were involved in the design and implementation of the district’s special education services, which “we can proudly say provides services for every special needs student, no matter the disability.”

They, too, played a part in allowing the district to create an early childhood center.

Smith expressed her gratitude.

“I just want to say that it’s been my honor and privilege to serve the community for the past 17 years,” she said.

Martino wanted to thank the superintendent, administrators, teachers and support staff professionals.

“You came to us with needs,” he said. “We tried to address all of them. We didn’t always address everything, but we wanted to make sure to be as fair as possible.”

Martino congratulated the newly elected and re-elected members of the board and shared a few words to help guide Dave and Al as they look to assume their new roles.

“To Dave and Al, you guys are joining a very good board,” Martino said. “You’re going to fit in very well. You have great leadership on this board. You guys are going to do great things and continue on down the path of progress that we’ve made.”

The rest of the board took a moment to express their gratitude to the service of Martino and Smith.

Board member Michele Degroot Rosenfeld said she wants to thank them for their mentoring and lively discussions.

“I do appreciate all the time and effort that both of you put into this,” she said.

Adair shared that sentiment.

“You guys have just been a great asset to this board and to this community,” he said. “Your presence will be surely missed.”

Manville took a moment to express further gratitude by commending them for the work they’ve performed.

“Being a board member is challenging volunteer position that demands a high abundance of time, high attention to detail and, of course, a love for children and community,” she said. “Each of them has certainly stepped up to that challenge and has served our community with such greatness. On behalf of all the residents of the school district, [the] Board of Education and all the building staff, I thank you and want to express their deepest appreciations to both of you for your dedicated service. It is that time for me to give you the symbolic apple.”

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